Focusing On Our Character StrengthsSeptember 18, 2017
What are some of the kick-ass qualities you love about yourself? We are so busy focusing on our perceived inadequacies, that we rarely stop to acknowledge and be thankful for our strengths. I invite you to pause for a second, and ask yourself: “what are my top three weaknesses, and top three strengths?” If you’re like most people, I bet you can easily identify your top three weaknesses a lot more readily than you can your strengths. However, it is our strengths that help us get through trying times, and we can consciously choose to call upon them for assistance once we really know what they are.
During my summer semester at Columbia University I had the opportunity to take a positive psychology class with professor Dr. Dan Tomasulo (he is an amazing human and you should definitely check out his work here). One of the first things Dan had us do was complete the VIA character strength assessment, it’s free and after reading this blog I hope you take it too!
As a lover of personal development and growth I was excited to take this assessment; however, I’m not going to lie, a small part of me was a little disappointed when I first saw the results. My top five strengths were forgiveness, honesty, gratitude, perspective, and self-regulation. Deep down I knew this was accurate, but I still haven’t fully shed the Type A, perfectionist, and driven side of Simone, so not seeing any characteristics that remotely resembles that part of myself was unsettling. Where was ambition? Or leadership? From an ego standpoint, those characteristics are the ones that I perceive as making me successful, yet they were nowhere to be found on paper. However, I needed to remind myself that those characteristics are still a part of me– it’s not like they just disappeared into thin air, or like I’m this radically different person. But, as I have embarked down a spiritual path, the strengths of mine beneath the surface, the ones that are my most authentic self, have risen to the top. This is who I am at the core: a forgiving, honest, grateful, perspectful, self-regulating being.
Enthused and intrigued by this topic, I decided to dig a little deeper and do some research, which validated the conclusion I had come to on my own:
“Your Character Strengths are different than your other strengths, such as your unique skills, talents, interests and resources, because character strengths reflect the “real” you — who you are at your core.” –VIA Character Strengths Website.
So how can we use our strengths, or why should we even use them?
When we are using our character strengths to their fullest and to help others, they serve as the doorway into a synergistic space where we’re engaged and can activate our passions and flow state.
Although it can be fun and interesting to do a little survey and find out your character strengths, it is actually much more than this. When properly applied to your life, character strengths can have a tremendously positive impact: they are your good qualities that influence your behavior and allow you strive to be the best you can be. If you are aware of your strongest qualities, why wouldn’t you want to cultivate them and be the most awesome version of yourself?
According to research, when you actively employ your character strengths on a daily basis, you can better address problems as they arise, be happier and healthier, and have better relationships with others because you know yourself better. If you know what your strengths are, you can then go on to find, and help grow, the strengths of others! And, when you draw on your strengths in difficult times, no problem is a match for you! How can you focus on incorporating your strengths in your daily life?